The 2003 IA Summit is now over, and again it was a wonderful affair filled with friends, interesting presentations, and a bit of the ol’ controversy. As Peter Merholz said during the five-minute madness, there was no where else I would have rather spent that weekend than among these friends. Highlights for me:
Stewart Brand’s keynote was great. Having already read How Buildings Learn and Clock of the Long Now not much was new to me, but hearing him deliver the ideas in person, with new stories to embellish the ideas, was a fantastic experience. Apparently he’s made the houseboat sea worthy again and takes it out for a spin once a month, even winning a race against another tugboat.
The panel on spatial navigation gave me a lot to chew on, since revisiting fundamental assumptions about navigation is where my head is at these days. Mark Bernstein reminded us not to bother trying to remove inherent complexity. Andrew Dillon tantalized with a model that acknowledges that there is a visual element to information seeking, but suggests semantics of links are more important. His idea of information shape is fleshed out in some of his earlier papers.
Bernstein later tried hard to anger the crowd with his condemnation of information architects, but I think everyone was too mesmerized by his gorgeous presentation while realizing some of his criticism was fair: we need to consider the larger view of user experience as physical architects do, start making beautiful, pliant, artifacts, and stop only whining about what’s wrong. Jesse echo’d this last sentiment during the five-minute madness, asking if we might celebrate our successes more often.
Ontologies, an unknown concept at last year’s conference, finally made their formal appearance, and met with mostly enthusiastic response.
I’ll not-so-humbly say that the AIfIA Leadership Seminar was a great success. The name and description probably encouraged the experienced folks to self-select into this group and raised the level of discourse. Peter Morville pointed out that what we create must live and function on into the future, and therefore we must be futurists and think strategically, considering what scenarios could befall us. My CMS presentation happily generated a great deal of conversation. Rashmi’s survey of research methods blew my mind with ways of applying psychology and statistics to improve our everyday design and usability tools. Finally Karen McGrane and Lou Rosenfeld offered savvy advice for selling IA, managing to address ROI without suspect formulas.
The theme of “Making Connections” proved valuable, bringing new faces like Mark Bernstein, Chris Fahey, and Simon Wistow into the fold.
More on the Summit blog…